Etta James ‘Queen Of Soul’ – album review

Etta James ‘Queen Of Soul’ (Ace/Kent)
Available now

A fantastic reissue of a remarkably ignored 1964 album by the late, great Etta James, who died on 20th January 2012. Compiled by Mick Patrick, with enthusiastic notes by Garth Cartwright, this is the latest in Ace’s highly commendable release program of irrationally overlooked Etta James albums on Chess, such as ‘Call My Name’ and ‘Losers Weepers’ (previously reviewed on LTW by your correspondent).

Etta James is in exceptional voice throughout the appositely named Queen Of Soul LP and the record’s tracks, which date from sessions recorded between late 1962 and late 1964, represent tremendously gripping soul music. The first slow number ”˜Bobby Is His Name’ (surely Scream leader Bobby Gillespie’s favourite tune of all time) is dazzling, the lush Nashville recorded ”˜I Worry About You’ is simply beautiful and ”˜Breaking Point’ and the propulsive ”˜Do Right’ highlight the singer’s more aggressive stance (No other singer can deliver the line “I’m gonna drop you like a sack of potatoes” like Etta James). ‘Mellow Fellow’ draws from a deep gospel well for a definitely secular thumping number celebrating sharp dressed dudes in continental suits and “Slim Jim ties”, while James’ reading of the formidable Irma Thomas’ ”˜I Wish Someone Would Care’ is made her own.

Coupled with marvellous material that just got issued as singles, left as B-sides, album tracks or even unissued (the mighty, rocking ”˜You Got Me Where You Want Me’ did not see the light of day until 2000), the Queen Of Soul CD edition is a stone cold classic. Single A-side ”˜Pay Back’ packs a mean punch (as Cartwright observes, Etta James could be “a two-fisted singer like few others”), ”˜Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be)’ defines forceful soul and ”˜Stop The Wedding’ is the last track that should ever be played at any happy nuptials.

Etta James’ formidable and utterly indispensible legacy abides.

Track Listing

1. Bobby Is His Name
2. I Wish Someone Would Care
3. That Man Belongs Back Here With Me
4. Somewhere Out There
5. Breaking Point
6. Flight 101
7. Loving You More Every Day
8. Do Right
9. I Worry About You
10. Mellow Fellow
11. You Got Me Where You Want Me
12. Only Time Will Tell
13. Pushover
14. You Can’t Talk To A Fool
15. Would It Make Any Difference To You
16. Stop The Wedding
17. How Do You Speak To An Angel
18. Be Honest With Me
19. Pay Back
20. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be)
21. Two Sides (To Every Story)
22. Tomorrow Night
23. I Can’t Hold It In Anymore
24. I Won’t Cry Anymore


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